First fatal case of Alaskapox virus: The origin of this new smallpox infection has not yet been identified

As its name suggests, this virus is currently confined to the US state of Alaska. Discovered in 2015, it has only been diagnosed in patients seven times.

This is the first fatal case of this virus in history. Orthopox virus, also called “Alaskan smallpox”, initially infected a woman in Alaska in the United States in 2015. A total of seven cases, including the first death, were reported in late January.

The area from which the virus is spreading is currently located only in this American state. Its name comes from a contraction between “Alaska”, where it was discovered and where it occurs, and “chickenpox” which means chickenpox in English. It is orthopox virus.

spread area

Since 2015, seven cases of Alaskapox virus have been reported in Alaska, including five people living in Fairbanks North Star Borough and two people living in Kenai Peninsula Borough. That includes a man who died in late January, according to a report by the Alaska Department of Health.

The man was immunocompromised, which may explain why the infection led to complications and why he did not survive.

For the moment, health officials want to offer reassurance about the virus and its dangerousness.

Risks associated with this virus

The virus is still being monitored. The Val-de-GrĂ¢ce Armed Forces Biomedical Research Institute established in 2019 two types of threats linked to this virus: the resurgence of smallpox and the appearance of some of these viruses that may appear in the absence of smallpox vaccination.

Three new types of orthopox virus Already discovered ten years ago.

The transmission is still unknown

The virus is believed to have been transmitted by small mammals living in Alaska. But this type of transmission is still uncertain. The virus has most commonly been identified in voles and red-backed shrews, but it can spread to small mammal populations.

To date, human-to-human transmission of Alaskapox virus has not been reported.

unusual symptoms

People infected with Alaskapox have one or more skin lesions such as bumps or pustules.

They may also have swollen lymph nodes and experience joint and muscle pain.


Health authorities recommend that Alaska residents take care of their pets and avoid contact with wild animals, especially small mammals.

Although no human-to-human transmission has yet been documented, it is best to avoid direct contact with the skin lesions of an infected person.

Obviously, it is recommended to put a dressing on the wound if you think you have contracted this disease. Indeed, some other orthopoxviruses can be transmitted this way.

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